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Financial adviser Russell Sandiford had a $3,000-a-week cocaine habit and acted ‘disgracefully’ in ripping off $500,000 from clients, court hears

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A ‘disgraceful’ financial adviser who ripped off almost $500,000 from clients was a drug user who spent about $3,000 a week on cocaine, a court has heard.

Russell Sandiford, 43, appeared at Sydney‘s Downing Centre District Court on Friday after pleading guilty in February to two charges of dishonest conduct relating to a financial product or service.

The offending by Sandiford, the former director of Reiwa-Capital, involved obtaining $440,909 from 74 clients on the basis of investing it for trading, corporate regulator ASIC said.

But the money was used for other purposes in a scheme the unlicensed Sandiford ran from January 2020 until June 2022.

Sandiford’s lawyer Will Tuckey told a sentencing hearing his client had been spending about $3,000 a week on cocaine and a large amount on alcohol at the time of the offences.

'Disgraceful' financial adviser Russell Sandiford (pictured), who ripped off almost $500,000 from clients, was a drug user who spent about $3,000 a week on cocaine, a court has heard

‘Disgraceful’ financial adviser Russell Sandiford (pictured), who ripped off almost $500,000 from clients, was a drug user who spent about $3,000 a week on cocaine, a court has heard

More than $100,000 had also been spent at bookmaker Sportsbet, the court was told.

By the time ASIC became involved, Sandiford had $600 in this account and later was forced to go on Centrelink as well as declaring bankruptcy.

Mr Tuckey said Sandiford’s behaviour continued after he knew ASIC was investigating, but there was ample evidence he had changed since the crimes came to light.

‘The 30 months was a disgraceful period of his life that he doesn’t wish to repeat,’ he said.

Sandiford took amounts from victims ranging from $300 to $81,000 and used relationships of trust to ‘lean on’ people for money.

Mr Tuckey said Sandiford was likely remorseful given he had made disclosures to ASIC and had intended to plead guilty early in the court process.

But he conceded his client was yet to take steps to address his drug and alcohol problems, leading to a court adjournment so that Sandiford could attend rehab.

‘He’s going to jail one way or the other,’ Judge Christopher O’Brien said, adding that a full-time custodial sentence was ‘still very much an option’.

Sandiford faces a maximum 15 years behind bars for the offences. He is due to be sentenced on September 6.

Sandiford's lawyer Will Tuckey told a sentencing hearing his client had been spending about $3,000 a week on cocaine and a large amount on alcohol at the time of the offences

Sandiford’s lawyer Will Tuckey told a sentencing hearing his client had been spending about $3,000 a week on cocaine and a large amount on alcohol at the time of the offences



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